Wildfires in Thinned versus Unthinned Plantation-Type Stands in Northern Iran

Document Type : Research Article


Assistant Professor in Forest Sciences and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran


Silvicultural treatments have been applied in the last decades to broadleaf and conifer plantations to increase resilience by enhancing structural and age-class diversity in northern Iran. The treatments included mechanical thinning manipulations, not followed by surface fuel reduction treatments like prescribed burning. The goal of this study was analyzing  the impact of stand-level silvicultural thinning on landscape-scale wildfire behavior. FlamMap minimum travel time (MTT) fire modeling system was used to simulate the impacts of thinning on fire growth and behavior based on spatial and temporal patterns of historical fire ignitions and associated weather and fuel moisture conditions within a forest landscape. Simulations were done by setting two different fuel moisture scenarios: 1) fuel moisture is fixed as the stands thinned, and 2) fuel moisture is reduced with the same degree of thinning. The results showed that thinning alone can be somewhat effective at mitigating the wildfires; as the landscape proportion with low burn probabilities (BP), conditional flame lengths (CFL), and fire sizes (FS) increases. This trend was not the same at higher values of these parameters. Although fine fuel moisture in thinned stands was lower than in unthinned stands, the fuel moisture difference resulting from stand thinning did not substantially influence fire behavior at the landscape level. The findings of this study can be used for better fire and fuel management and other land-use objectives in fire-prone areas.

Graphical Abstract

Wildfires in Thinned versus Unthinned Plantation-Type Stands in Northern Iran


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